Friday, February 28, 2014

The Burning River Ramblers--- {:to color a fool}

You have to wonder what people are thinking sometimes.  An example:  You're leafing through the record racks and you come across an album by The Burning River Ramblers.  Has to be Bluegrass or Country, right?  Guess again.  These ramblers are mainstream rock (from Cleveland and Athens, they say on their website).  Well, maybe not straight ahead mainstream rock, but mainstream enough.  But seriously?  With literally thousands and maybe millions of combinations they could come up with, they settle on Burning River Ramblers?  What's next?  A folk duo called Amplified Baby Puke?  A death metal band called Flowing Sequins?  Maybe I'm out of line here, but shouldn't the name of the band give you a clue as to what sort of music they produce?

That aside, if I have to listen to mainstream, please let it be to a band at least this good.  I think I've had a stroke recently because a handful of bands have sounded like Oami to me lately, and I'm sure you are asking who that is.  When I returned to writing music reviews after a long layoff, Oami's Day In the City was among my first.  Recorded and released in 2005, the album steamrolled me and I never really understood why.  I found it fresh and just outside the mainstream, or at least that's how I choose to remember it.  God only knows what I actually wrote (you can read the review here), but I'm sure I meant every word of it.  I listened to that album a lot back then and still occasionally pull it out to refresh my memory, usually with the thought that I should revisit it more often.

The reason that I bring that up is that {:to color a fool} steamrolls me today in the same way that Day In the City did back then. Both bands have that ability to tap dance around a song with light rhythmic touches--- sometimes syncopated, sometimes latin, sometimes just jazz-riffy--- and those touches make the difference.  Surround those rhythms with smooth vocals (and a slew of vocal hooks), flowing backup, and an attitude which reminds me more than a bit of early Steely Dan, and you have a band worthy of attention.

Cleveland.  The home of another favorite, Dan Miraldi & The Albino Winos.  Home base for The Damnation of Adam Blessing, The Raspberries and The Euclid Beach Band.  A city full of riffmeisters  and chooglers (The Burning River Ramblers qualify in both categories).

The cool thing is, in this day and age, you don't have to take my word for it.  The Net supplies links for those musicians smart enough to use them.  Here is a link to the band's web page where you can stream five tracks from this album and a string of other tunes.  Even better, scroll down to this video which captures one of my favorite songs on the album, Don't Wait On Me.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

(Frank Gutch Jr. writes and has written for numerous magazines and websites, presently including this blog, his own website and the prestigious Don't Believe A Word I Say site put together by musician and music pundit Bob Segarini, out of Toronto. He specializes in the Indies, having fought hand-to-hand combat with major record labels for decades (talk about zombies). He believes music should be the core of the music business, though business it mostly be, and denies the accepted reality in the stead of the artistic one. Seldom does he receive pay for articles and/or reviews and believes that there is no place for negatives in a world in which one cannot keep up with the positives. He is, in a sense, a lost soul in a sea of music, drowning, but drowning gratefully.)

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